Guide to Daibutsu in Japan – Univers-Japon-Shop

Buddhism was originally started by the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism who lived in India over 2,000 years ago. It was then introduced to Japan in the 6th century and began to spread throughout the country. Japan’s native religion is Shinto, but over the years these two religions have influenced each other considerably and you can find many places in Japan where Buddhism and Shinto merge. Nowadays, you can easily find the presence of Buddhism here and there in Japan. Buddhist temples are symbolic tourist attractions where visitors can learn about the religion by exploring historical structures and holy sites. This is also where you can see the Buddha statue, often seen as an objection to honoring an incarnation of the Buddha. In this article, we will introduce you to the 10 famous Buddha statues in Japan!

Buddhism in Japan: A Brief History and the Best Buddhist Temples to Visit

Buddhism is one of the two main religions in Japan. Here we will explain how it was introduced to Japan and its influence on the daily life of the Japanese.

1.Nara Daibutsu

Nara Daibutsu is one of the most famous Buddha statues in Japan. It is preserved in Todaiji, the historical temple located in Nara Prefecture. It was established by Emperor Shomu in the early 8th century and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the “Historical Monuments of Ancient Nara”. Nara Daibutsu is a symbolic statue that attracts many visitors as a national treasure built nearly 1,300 years ago. It is 15 meters high and greets visitors with a peaceful smile. The statue is kept inside a large wooden building, one of the largest wooden structures in the world!

7:30 am – 5:30 pm (April to October)
8 am – 5 pm (November to March)
Admission costs 600 yen (adult)

▶Recommended Tour: Nara World Heritage Private Walking Tour from Kyoto (Customizable, 8 hours)

2.Ushiku Daibutsu

Ushiku Daibutsu is a bronze Buddha statue located in the city of Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture. It is known as the tallest bronze Buddha statue in the world with a height of 120 meters, which is officially on the Guinness World Records list. Construction was completed in 1992, indicating that the statue is relatively new compared to other historical statues. Visitors are allowed inside the statue where they can learn about the construction process with informative exhibits. Enjoy the panoramic view from the observation deck that rises 85 meters above the ground.

9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (March to September)
9:30 am to 4:30 pm (October to February)
admission fee 800 yen (adult)

3.Kamakura Daibutsu

Kamakura Daibutsu is an iconic Buddha statue located in the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. It attracts a number of tourists throughout the year as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city full of historical sites. You can see the impressive statue at Kotokuin, a Buddhist temple belonging to the Jodo sect. Although the origin of the temple is still uncertain, the 11.3-meter statue is believed to have been built around the 13th century. During this period, Kamakura flourished as the political and economic center of Japan under the influence of the Kamakura shogunate that ruled the country from 1185 to 1333. Since the interior of the statue is empty, you can explore the small space.
Taking guided tours of the area will be a great idea to understand the context of the city and learn about its history. There are also many fascinating tours, such as a tour led by local high school students. Spring is definitely the best season to visit Kamakura there, when the temple’s cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

8:00 am – 5:30 pm (April to September)
8 am – 5 pm (October to March)
Admission costs 300 yen (adult)

4.Takaoka Daibutsu

Takaoka Daibutsu fascinates visitors with its beautiful appearance. It is located in Daibutsu-ji Temple, about a 10-minute walk from JR Takaoka Station in Toyama Prefecture. Along with Nara Daibutsu and Kamakura Daibutsu, it is considered one of the three largest Buddha statues in Japan. The story goes back about 800 years when the original was built by Minamoto no Yoshikatsu. It has been rebuilt several times due to extensive fire damage over the centuries. The current construction began in 1907 and it took 26 years to finally complete the beautiful statue. Inside the statue, you will discover impressive Buddhist paintings and the head of the previous statue preserved in good condition!

6am – 6pm
No admission fees

5. Fukuoka Buddha

The Fukuoka Buddha is a wooden Buddha statue located at Tocho-ji Temple in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is the largest wooden Buddha statue in Japan which was made in 1992. The 10.8-meter statue weighs around 30 tons and fascinates visitors with its sacred atmosphere. According to historical records, the temple was founded by Kukai, a notable Japanese monk who lived between the 8th and 9th centuries. He opened the temple in 806, shortly after his return from China, hoping to spread the influence of esoteric Buddhism to the eastern regions of Japan. It also served as a family temple for the Kuroda family, who ruled the area as a feudal clan during the Edo period.

No admission fees

6.Nihonji Daibutsu

Nihonji Daibutsu is located in Nihonji Temple in Chiba Prefecture. The construction of the temple dates back to the year 725, when Gyoki, a Buddhist priest, inaugurated it following the official order of Emperor Shomu. The Buddha statue is 31 meters tall, making it the tallest sitting Buddha statue in Japan. It was originally carved out of a giant rock in 1783 and later restored in 1969 as it had been eroded by rain over the centuries. Nihonji Temple is located on the southern slopes of Mount Nokogiri, where visitors can take a relaxing stroll through the sprawling, nature-rich temple grounds.

8:00 am – 5:00 pm (April to October)
admission fee 700 yen (adult)

7.Showa Daibutsu

Showa Daibutsu is a bronze statue of the Buddha located at Seiryu-ji Temple in Aomori Prefecture. Built in 1984, it is only 21.35 meters tall, making it the tallest sitting bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Another highlight is the beautiful five-story pagoda, known as the fourth tallest five-story pagoda in Japan with a height of 39.35 meters. Many visitors enjoy walking on the sacred ground of the temple and its peaceful surroundings.

photo by Aprenet Aomori Pref.

8:00 am – 5:30 pm (April to October)
9 am – 4:30 pm (November to March)
admission fee 400 yen (adult)

You might be surprised that you can also find a beautiful Buddha statue inside Tokyo! Tokyo Daibutsu is a bronze statue of the Buddha located in the Jorenji Temple in the city of Itabashi. The 12.5 meter tall statue was completed in 1977 with the great hope of a peaceful future free from any disastrous tragedy Tokyo has experienced in the past. Jorenji is a Buddhist temple of the Jodo sect dating back to the 14th century. There are historical structures that have stood there for centuries in harmony with the peaceful surroundings. This is one of the top 10 scenic spots located within the city limits, albeit a bit out of the way.

9. Buddha Hill

Buddha Hill is a popular tourist attraction in Sapporo that opened in 2015. It was designed by Tadao Andō, a world-renowned Japanese architect involved in a number of masterpieces and impressive structural designs. It is located in the Makomanai Takino part of the cemetery and features a giant semi-subterranean Buddha statue. Only the head of the statue can be seen from afar with beautiful hillsides lined with seasonal plants and flowers throughout the year. Summer is the perfect season to take a look at the unique landscape created by the contrast of the purple lavenders and the impressive statue. There is a sacred walkway that leads to the bottom of the statue that allows you to see the entire statue!

photo by Appie Verschoor, CC BY-SA 2.0 par flickr

9:00 am – 4:00 pm (April to October)
10 am – 3 pm (November to March)
No admission fees

▶Recommended tour: Buddha Hill, Lake Shikotsu and Hokkaido Ballpark

10. Gifu Daibutsu

Gifu is a mountainous prefecture located in the Chubu region of Japan. This is the home of the Gifu Daibutsu, a wooden Buddha statue kept in the Shoboji Temple. It was finished in 1832 after 38 years of construction. The 13.63-meter statue is stored in a historic wooden room featuring Chinese architectural style. It is also officially designated as an important cultural property of the prefecture. A huge ginkgo tree is used as the main column of the structure, and other natural materials such as wood, bamboo, and chalk make up the beautiful statue. Japanese lacquer and gold leaf are used to create a stunning look that envelops the room in a spiritual atmosphere.

Admission costs 100 yen (adult)

Japan Merveille Voyage is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan.
From private walking tours to delicious food tours, we can help you put together the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and stories of each region you visit, our knowledgeable and friendly English-speaking guides will be happy to take you to the best places!
Also, we can provide any assistance you may need for your next trip to Japan, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need help!

Visiting temples is always a great way to understand Japan in its cultural aspects. You can also explore the historical sites in greater depth with a better understanding of the historical background and basic knowledge of Buddha statues. In addition to the 10 famous Buddha statues featured above, countless other statues await your visit in beautiful temples in Japan!

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